When Jackson Miller Porter II turned two weeks old, Claire decided it was time he met his father. She had no trouble telling Jeremiah she was going—she was actually beginning to think he feared she was never going to leave—but it wasn’t quite as smooth sailing convincing him she needed Vicki to go with her. And that they needed to go now.
There would be a blue moon soon, and she couldn’t risk the other elements coming together and closing the portal before she passed through to Jack. She could only assume that would happen. She wasn’t certain. There had to be something that triggered the opening and closing to the portal. She’d monitored the signs for months, had anticipated what might happen. The conditions were looking good.
It would be tough on both Vicki and their three-month-old daughter Kari if she were to be gone for several days, so Jeremiah decided they would all go. It would make it much less conspicuous, a family traveling together, rather than two women and a baby traveling alone.
At least in Jeremiah’s eyes. Claire was almost certain he felt a need to see this thing through with her to the end. Surprisingly, over the past months, there had been no sign of Rick. Whether he had given up on the notion of finding Claire, or he was simply waiting for the right opportunity, they didn’t know. But they realized now, of all times, was not the time to get lazy.
She worried he had crossed over months earlier, perhaps looking for her and the cup. If that were the case, she had to trust Jack could take care of himself, and that if he and Rick tangled, Jack would be fine. It was a concern but the fact remained, she really didn’t know what had happened, and speculation was arguable.
The group slipped across Hatteras Inlet on the last ferry of the evening, but not until they were under the cover of darkness did they attempt to approach the cottage. They were more than ready. Despite induction into the traveling life quite early, both infants were cranky, tired, and hungry.
They needed food and sleep. Just like the adults.
Claire let them into the cottage, and Jeremiah searched for clues of forced entry. There was none. She had feared Rick might have anticipated her moves.
Afterward, she led them to the necessary rooms—bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchen. Before long, the children were asleep, and within the hour Claire was restless as a cat.
As midnight drew nearer, a solemn mood stole over Claire and the others. This was truly it. She had every reason to believe she would never make it back to this world again. Looking out at the beach from the front porch, she began to speculate on the choices she’d made in her life and soon came to the conclusion she’d done what she wanted to do, what needed to be done, and lived her life here to the fullest. She couldn’t ask anything more.
And now, she would experience something so unique, so unusual, she should feel privileged for the ability to do so.
The moon beamed down on the beach, full and bright, and she knew it was time. She searched the waterline below and smiled as it rose steadily up the beach. High tide. She searched the horizon, looking for any rumblings of a storm. If only there was a storm. If she could get through without Rick following her, then she would be safe. They all would be safe for quite some time.
“Do you want to go to the lighthouse alone, Claire?” Vicki stepped up behind her on the porch.
Not turning around, she slowly shook her head. “No, I want you to go with me.” Then she faced her and nervously smiled. “If you want to. I might need your strength to cross over.”
Vicki smiled at her and took her into her arms. “I want to. I will be there for you. Always.”
Claire smiled back.